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02/01 Direct Link
Previous attempts at filling this space were unsuccessful, and most of the entries were of the sort that you would not want to read.

e.g.
Standing at the copier today, I wondered whether people who are in love emit some sort of detectable glow -- I could feel happiness radiating out of every pore, etc... ... ...

Three happy months were followed by miserable, heartbroken ones, in which I wrote miserable things.

e.g.
Standing at the copier today, I wondered whether my heartache could create a deadly black hole in my chest, etc... ... ...

Apparently I spent lots of time at the copier, too.
02/02 Direct Link
Everyone in the world is a lying scumbag. You realize that eventually. The realization has a negative effect on your increasingly cynical worldview.

You resolve never to trust anyone again, but before you know it you're trusting thousands of strangers a day. Mostly they are too busy to target you specifically, so you start to relax. It's easy.

Stranger on the road, do not run me over with your bus. Stranger in the toothpaste factory, do not add poison to my toothpaste. Stranger in the blue dress... ... ... And so on.

They'll only hurt you, you know. They'll break your heart.
02/03 Direct Link
I guess I'm willing to let you decide what “normal” is for both of us. It's a terrible and unhealthy idea, but left to my own devices I would come home every evening, drink up all the Port, eat a fistful of chocolate chips for dinner, and pass out on the floor. Your nightly phone calls, as insane as they are, are keeping me sane.

“I'm lying in bed,” you tell me, “with the phone resting on my ear.”

What are you thinking? I would give anything to read 100 of your words, if they were true.
02/04 Direct Link
What is there to say?

There is a gigantic lump in my throat. Ouch.

Hello there. You caught me at a bad time. I would like to put my head in someone's lap and have her pat me on the head and tell me that I am a poor little lamb. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who talks like that.

send help send help send help send help
send help send help send help send help
send help send help send help send help
send help send help send help send help
send help send help send help send help
...
02/05 Direct Link
Buy one of those little notebooks. They're $0.99 at your corner drugstore. Now, when you're outside and you think of something... let's say you're looking at a puddle in the road... you pull out your notebook and write, “the morning dew was as wet as a puddle in the road.”

Hey, that's good!

Your notebook will come to feel like an extension of yourself. Write in it every day, and before long you, too, will be able to enter that divine creative state at will.

from:
Dunling, Steve. The Art and Science of Writing. Albany, NY: Steamham Press, 2009.
02/06 Direct Link
Mr. Dunling,

You are a fraud. I followed all of the advice in your book, including carrying that ridiculous notebook around with me, and I have made, no progress. I sat in the bar writing and eating french fries last night and it was terrible. The writing, I mean, not the french fries.

How someone who has never written anything can write a book about writing is beyond me. What is the publishing industry coming to. Maybe the attorney generals should be told what kind of wool you are trying to pull over the eyes of our aspiring writers.

-SD-
02/07 Direct Link
Q: How can I sit next to her on the couch? It's painful.

A: Grip your left arm with your right hand so tightly that your knuckles turn white. Put your left arm over your head and grab the back of the couch equally tightly. Hold this position for as long as necessary. This way you are not able to touch her or squeeze her leg or give her a massage, which would cause her to stomp out of your apartment. If she asks what the hell you are doing, say, “I'm just sitting on the couch, what's up?”
02/08 Direct Link
He despises me, but that's OK. I don't need or want his approval.

I know we're on the same side, and that prevents me from despising him, although I sometimes wish I could.

I can't hate him, but that doesn't mean I have to like him. I ask the waiter for a table as far away from his as possible.

He and his date glower at me from across the restaurant before we exchange artificial smiles and nods of recognition.

The fact that I have so much in common with such a boorish asshole makes me question my own judgment.
02/09 Direct Link
As my friends from school graduate and find jobs elsewhere, some of them donate half-empty liquor bottles to me. They know their former beverages will have a good home, and they're spared the trouble of loading them into the moving van.

The upshot of this is that while my social circle diminishes, my collection of cheap, terrible alcohol grows. A barely-palatable cocktail made with Barton vodka is cold comfort when I'm sitting here alone missing the friend who gave me the bottle, but it is better than nothing.

Eventually a warm happiness sneaks up on me and I fall asleep.
02/10 Direct Link
The people at the bottom of the tower are growing restless.

Earlier this week they sent a joint memorandum to voice their displeasure.

“Some of us have decided that we would prefer an alternative lifestyle,” it began.

The people in the middle of the tower have agreed to hum loudly to drown out the noises of subversion. They will also tear up any further outrageous messages.

As a joke, some of us have decided to jump up and down at the same time, to remind everyone who is at the top of this tower and who is at the bottom.
02/11 Direct Link
He should have stayed at home.

We all agreed on that – not only because he was so sick, but because of the perverse pride he took in his presence in the office that day.

He obviously relished every syllable of his wet, productive coughs.

“ka-huuh-huuh-huuh-HOO-WOW!”

Since none of us had ventured to call him a 'trooper', even at his urging, he cheerfully and repeatedly applied that label to himself.

“I tell you, I should be at home eating soup right now. I must be some kind of a trooper. How's that for true dedication?”

We were unmoved.
02/12 Direct Link
“WTF”: The Movie

FADE IN: EXT. California Route 5, southbound. We ZOOM IN

to see a late-model Ford Escort that has seen better days. We ZOOM IN

again to get a better view of the car's occupants: retired police lieutenant DOYLE, and a smoking MONKEY. The MONKEY is driving.

DOYLE:
You've been driving for hours... don't you want a break?

The MONKEY takes a drag and says nothing.

DOYLE:
Whatever, pal. Just remember, I need you to be clear-headed when we make our pitch. This is our big chance.

DOYLE lovingly pulls a SCREENPLAY out of his suitcase.
02/13 Direct Link
I stepped out of the cold into Joan's while I waited for the liquor store across the street to open. I ordered a cup of coffee and looked at my watch.

Florists aren't the only businesses that get a boost from Valentine's day. Liquor stores also see increased traffic because there are people who want to forget. Lots of people. I was up early to avoid the crowd.

At nine o'clock I paid for my coffee and headed across the street. Vikram nodded to me from behind the counter.

“I had a feeling I'd see you today,” he said.
02/14 Direct Link
I lived with seven other guys as a freshman in college, and one of them was pretty crazy. There were fits of screaming in the middle of the night, there was the time he picked up his mini-refrigerator over his head and threw it at his roommate, the paranoia, the constant creepy laughter...

He met a strange, lanky girl in the second semester, and I think they fell in love.

He suddenly became polite and thoughtful and calm. He slept through the night and stopped threatening to murder us. We sometimes found him quietly staring out his window, smiling.

02/15 Direct Link
I stopped in to see Vikram today. He looked exhausted.

“How's business?” I asked.

“Bitter, lonely assholes like you are keeping me afloat in these troubled times,” he grinned. “Thank God for holidays that are all about love and togetherness – I just wish they weren't all clustered together in the winter...”

“Yeah, cool,” I said, cutting him off. “Listen, I just wanted to return this bottle I bought the other day. I decided that sitting around drinking alone is kinda lame.”

He rolled his eyes as he opened the cash register.

You're kinda lame.”
02/16 Direct Link
We could talk about how we're mistreated by strangers and acquaintances because they don't understand us.

We could all participate. Hey, let's make it a convention. We'll get together and pat each others' heads and call each other poor little lambs, only let's not do that because it would be creepy, GOD it would be creepy, and all I'd be able to think about would be how badly I want to go home and get away from all these creepy people who don't understand me and get your hands off my fucking head.

I just want to be left alone!

02/17 Direct Link
I'm German/Irish on my Mother's side and Hungarian/Swedish on my Father's.

He once told me the Hungarians and the Swedes will perpetually be at odds. The Hungarian side always wants to go around hugging everyone and holding conventions and dancing in public, while the Swedish side wants to be left in silence so he can smoke his pipe.

My Mom never told me about the German/Irish situation, but I can only imagine...

I don't know how much I believe in that kind of thing, but it sounds like a recipe for a neurotic basket case to me. THANK YOU, ANCESTORS.
02/18 Direct Link
OFFICE LIFE

I sat at my desk and waited for a disruption.

The normalcy of the everyday routine had reached an unsustainable level, and something had to happen that morning. Samantha tapped on her keyboard and nibbled some almonds.

My breathing became shallow and my muscles tensed. My eyes darted around the room. Any second now there would be a bomb or a hurricane or an unexpected cupcake delivery or an outbreak of the dancing plague, and all of our lives would change forever. I welcomed it, whatever it was.

come on come on come on come on come on
02/19 Direct Link
There are very few empty seats left on the train, so they cannot sit together. She chooses the seat in front of his and silently takes his coat.

He knocks on the back of her seat and starts to make a comment about the view. She turns around, irritated.

“Can't you see I'm on the phone?”

He sheepishly goes back to looking out the window.

When the person next to him gets up to leave, she leaps up from her seat to take the one next to him. She wraps herself around his arm, and they instantly fall asleep, smiling.
02/20 Direct Link
Oh, I am sorry. I have perpetuated a lie.

In my story about the couple on the train, I said that the woman jumped up from her seat, sat next to the guy, wrapped herself around him, and they fell asleep. Soft music. Fade to black. THE END.

That was true, mostly. But that sleeping position is not easy on the spine, so they quickly shifted to one that was more practical and less romantic. They turned away from each other and crossed their arms. Mouths agape, they began to snore loudly. I do not doubt there was some drooling.
02/21 Direct Link
The problem is, in my zeal to contrast their initial lack of affection for one another with their obvious need to be together, I perpetuated a sort of pernicious romantic myth. I provided the Hollywood ending where you, the audience, are left to assume that they stayed in that position for hours, at great cost to the discs and muscles of the lower back.

After seeing an ending like that, your expectations are raised, and you are primed for disappointment. You may also miss real romance when you see it.

I hope he buys her flowers at their destination anyway.
02/22 Direct Link
I found myself on State and Sprague this afternoon. I paused briefly to remember what had happened on that corner three months ago.

I clearly saw two people who were not there. Her red hair was shorter than it is now. They were laughing. He kissed her, and she fell into his arms. I could only watch.

Trying to recover the past is one of the saddest things you can do, because it never works. Trying to do it in a familiar place is even sadder, because you cannot help but try.

Maybe this happens more as you get older.
02/23 Direct Link
I should be on the payroll at:

*Albany Public Library: For some reason people assume I work there and are always asking me where to find things. I almost always help them out. Do I look like a librarian? Yes, I suppose I do.

*Hannaford: The baskets at the register are always a mess, and I always straighten them out before I put mine back.

I shouldn't be on the payroll at:

*Either of my jobs, because I spend most of my time reading the news, drinking coffee, and making small talk about dogs and the weather.
02/24 Direct Link
I'm discovering (too late, I'm afraid) that success in professional life is mainly a matter of knowing who hates whose guts at the right time. In the workplace, where it's not uncommon to find people who have been working together for several decades, this is not difficult.

In my office there is a great chain of animosity, extending even to people who retired and passed on years ago.

Expressing hatred for the right people at the right time is the proper way to curry favor in the modern office. Doing so will lead to self-hatred, but think of your career.
02/25 Direct Link
EVERY GRAPHIC DESIGNER YOU'VE MET

The artist has much to teach the world, and he resents others' appropriations of his symbols.

They are properly his, after all, since through years of study and meditation only he understands them. Their mistreatment by the great unwashed renders them overused to the point of meaninglessness, and makes his goal of creating something pure and true impossible.

What remains, then, but for him to create his own symbols, uncorrupted by centuries of use and misuse? He must do no less than tear down his own culture and create a new one in its place.
02/26 Direct Link
I AM JEALOUS OF YOUR FICTIONAL VAMPIRE BOYFRIEND:
(a true story of romance)

I didn't like the way she closed her eyes and held her hand to her heart when she talked about him. I think she was trembling. Oh-ho-ho... I'll fix both of you.

Al-Baraki has the best falafel in town, with the highest garlic content.

“Hey,” I say, “What do you say about falafel for lunch?”

***

“Did you like your falafel?”

“Yes, it was... fine... Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Oh-ho-ho, WHAT FICTIONAL VAMPIRE HEARTTHROB WILL HAVE YOU NOW???”
02/27 Direct Link
I decided to grow a beard for a while. It is my new hobby.

I look like a slightly more dangerous character now. People no longer come up to me in the library and ask me where to find the books about gardening. Little children hide behind their parents when I approach.

I have also stopped washing my dishes. They are piling up in my sink. It makes me feel like a badass.

Doing stuff is also strictly for the birds. I am too cool for that. I will lie here on the couch tonight and consider pulling myself together.
02/28 Direct Link
FEBRUARY IS STRANGER THAN FICTION

I picked up the phone, even though I knew who it was.

Yes, it has been a few days. Everything's cool. Would I like to go out and get a drink? To celebrate your new job? The one that is right down the street from where I live? Wow! Awesome. YES OF COURSE.

Is this really how this ridiculous month ends? Nothing is easy. I hope you guys had a good February. Mine was kinda weird. I'm going to hit “submit” now so I can go online and read about it whenever I want.